Oregon Scientific WR602 Weather Radio Reviews

Oregon Scientific WR602 Weather Radio

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Good basic radio that works in Canada; tests can't be cleared

Apr 15, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Reasonably priced, good loud alarm, portable, well-made.

Cons:Can't clear tests or advisories, can't be upgraded, doesn't recognize all Canadian codes.

The Bottom Line: Good radio; a few problems, especially for Canadian users

I bought the WR602 because I'm moving to Winnipeg, a city that regularly sees dangerous heat, floods, tornadoes, hailstorms, punishing cold, and blizzards - but unlike at my current home in Calgary, not generally all in the same day. It also appears that weathermen in Winnipeg have made a new and astounding discovery called "forecasting". This breathtaking concept made me realize that a weather radio might actually be of use (getting a heavy snowfall warning when there's already fourteen inches of snow on the ground, as happened last week in Calgary, would hardly justify even a moderate expense).

So I ordered the WR602 from the Source at Circuit City online. The first thing I realized was that although the battery was inside the battery compartment, it wasn't actually plugged into the radio. Without a plugged-in battery the radio will work on its charging base but of course the minute you pick it up it not only shuts off but also loses any programming you entered while it was on the base. To be fair, the instruction manual does mention this - in tiny print - but if you're a fool like me and set the thing up without reading the manual, you might get frustrated.

And that's the first problem with the WR602: the instruction manual is not very good. Some pages are upside-down, others contain print so small that users over 40 or those with marginal eyesight might have problems with it, and it arrives smashed into a tiny plastic bag folded in eight, which means you have to basically stick a brick on it for a few days to make it flat enough to easily read. Given that it's relatively thick (as it's printed in three languages), it could have been laid flat in the back of the package.

Getting back to the radio itself: it has a clock and two user alarms. I didn't find the user alarms to be very loud, but they are loud enough to use as a travel alarm if necessary. The clock is readable, has a backlight, and can be programmed to show the date in English, French, or Spanish. To program the weather radio part of it, you find the correct code and frequency for your US county or Canadian location at either the NOAA or Environment Canada website and, following the instructions, enter them, then test the radio to make sure you got it right.

The warning alarm is very loud, loud enough not just to be heard anywhere in my house but outside it too - my neighbour's dog heard it (and replied at length) through half of my house, the outside wall, the ten feet separating our houses, and the walls of his house, which is pretty impressive for both the radio and the dog. The warning text is large and readable in both French and English. (I can't vouch for Spanish since Environment Canada doesn't broadcast in Spanish.) However, the warning light is a faint LED and cannot be seen clearly in daylight. The radio volume can be adjusted from somewhat loud to amazingly loud. It is however possible to mute the radio while still receiving visual alarms.

The biggest problem I'm having with it is that advisories and tests can't be cleared after they've been read. Every Wednesday at noon local time Environment Canada sends a test message down the pipes per federal regulations. For the next TWELVE hours the radio flashes the words "Required Weekly Test" over and over again, and while the text is flashing you can't use the clock. There is no way to clear the test for that twelve-hour period. I don't mind this happening for actual warnings, but for a test? OS should have included a clear function for advisories.

Another problem is that the SAME codes uploaded to the WR602 do not include all codes used by Environment Canada. Our heavy snowfall warning last week came across as "Unrecognized Warning", which is again not terribly useful. It would be nice if the software/firmware were upgradeable, but it doesn't appear to be possible as there is no USB port.

But it does give good value for money. The warning alarm and the radio audio is loud, and it can regularly pick up both the local weather radio transmitter a mile away and the one thirty miles away. (One hint: don't put it near any other electronics, as this reduces its range.) It works in the US and in Canada. There are no problems using it in either English or French. It's reasonably priced and appears to be well-made, and you can use it on battery power for up to a week.

One final point that doesn't affect this review but annoyed me mightily: Oregon Scientific's website has to be one of the worst-designed electronics websites I've ever seen. They don't seem to be interested in solving my problems as much as they are in telling me what they want me to know. Not good business sense, Oregon Scientific. Solve my problems, get more of my money.

Recommend this product? Yes

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